Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Part I – A pretty good month

So, here I am, back again. I had what I would call a pretty good month. Well, if you don’t include the ‘Salt Peanuts’ sweater… I’ve re-named that pattern; I now call it ‘Drive Me Nuts’. All the lovely folks I have discussed this $%&#@%$ sweater with on the knitting boards I belong to must think I’ve absolutely gone out of my mind. This sweater is taking over my life. I’ve frogged and re-written and frogged and re-written over and over and still I’ve only completed the back and part of the left front. The back was ridiculously easy and gave me no idea of what was in store for me when I started the left front. The pattern directions were, to say the least, unhelpful. I tried to write out the instructions line for line, thinking that would help me figure the pattern out. When I knitted up my ‘new’ directions, it just didn’t look like the gorgeous sweater in the picture. So I ripped it all out, re-wound my ball of wool, and read through the pattern again.

Then I re-wrote the instructions, making sure I used the original pattern and not my first effort at figuring it out on paper, and started knitting yet again. This time I only knitted up the ribbing and a couple of inches of the front before I figured out that something just did not look good. Once again, I had gotten it wrong. I thought the ‘selvedge’ stitches would be on the edge that was to be sewn to the back. I was wrong. That edge was supposed to be straight stockinette stitch so I could sew it correctly, if I ever got it made up. So that was one thing wrong. Then, in discussing the pattern with some of my Stitch’n Bitch group, we figured out that the two selvedge stitches should be along the front edge, which makes for a nice flat edge. Makes sense, right? But when I looked over the directions, I couldn’t figure out if the pattern stitches would take up five stitches in addition to the two selvedge stitches or if the five stitches would be the total of the pattern including the selvedge stitches.

When some helpful folks on my favorite group, BusyKnitting, posted the link to a KAL (Knit-A-Long, for the uninitiated) for this very sweater, I went and checked it out. Apparently, all the folks who knitted this sweater have interpreted the pattern in their own ways and there were lots of solutions presented. I tried a couple of them, but frogged them all. I finally gave in and completely re-wrote the pattern, figuring out my own solution. I went through my stitch dictionaries and found a lace rib that was very similar to the pattern in the sweater and re-wrote the left front portion of the pattern using it. I’m happy with the way the left front of this sweater looks now and it will definitely fit with the back that I’ve already completed. My biggest problem now is whether or not I’ll be able to make the right front of the sweater match the left front. I have made tons of notes to myself on ‘my’ version, just so I don’t forget exactly what I’ve done, so keep your fingers crossed. I would cross mine, but it makes it difficult to knit… ;o) Anyway, before I started this sweater I really thought I could consider myself an ‘intermediate’ knitter, but not if this is the pattern I’ll be judged by, that’s for sure.

Part II – What I did on my summer vacation…

I didn’t really take much in the way of vacation time, but made the most of what time I did take. Mike and I went to a couple (really three) of wool/fiber festivals over the summer, though I’m still saving my pennies for Rhinebeck in October. We went to a couple of air shows, too, and had a great time. The weather has cooperated beautifully with all our plans this year. Since that rarely happens, I’m enjoying it while I can. We went up north to the Lake Placid area a couple of weekends and even the long drive up there and back was lovely.

This last weekend we went to Syracuse on Saturday, then drove to Geneseo, NY for Saturday night, and on to Hemlock for the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival on Sunday. That was a very nice little fair, though it seemed to be much more geared to spinners and weavers than knitters. I still got some lovely goodies and have posted pictures for your viewing pleasure. I picked up some fabulous 50% wool/50% alpaca in cream and now have to find the perfect pattern for an Aran sweater to use it on. I’ve always wanted to try my hand on an Aran sweater. My grandmother was from Ireland and we always had lovely hand-knitted sweaters growing up. She didn’t knit them, but she brought them home from Ireland when she visited. I think some of her sisters and sisters-in-law were cottage-industry hand-knitters so she could always get a fairly good price. Anyway, I’d like to try to make one myself. I’ve done cables and I really enjoyed doing them, even the ‘fiddly’ ones. I just love the way they come out looking in a sweater. I want to find a cardigan as I have a problem with anything that’s even a tiny bit close to my neck – for some reason, it feels like I’m choking when my neckline is too close. Oh well, I think a cardigan is probably more versatile anyway, at least for me. I probably won’t start anything until after the holidays anyway, so I’ll have lots of time to look for something just right.

Part III – Current Projects

Let’s see; what is on my needles right now?

  1. ‘Drive Me Nuts’, formerly known as ‘Salt Peanuts’ (pictures posted);

  2. Toe-up socks that I can’t seem to get around to finishing because I just don’t like socks, I think;

  3. ‘Branching Out’ scarf from Knitty, about five feet long, so that’s almost done;

  4. ‘Gryffindor House Scarf’ from “Charmed Knits”; this one is all stockinette, in the round…ho-hum, boring as all get out after about two rows, but it’s spoken for, so I have to finish it;

  5. Lacy Prairie Shawl from ‘Folk Shawls’ by Cheryl Oberle in a cream-colored alpaca – so soft and slippery and warm that I can’t wait to get it around my shoulders during the winter (picture posted);

  6. A fun and funky scarf for a Christmas gift that is easy and fun to make (picture posted);

  7. Various washcloths, etc., for spa sets, as Christmas gifts for friends at work; and

  8. A couple of scarves that never seem to get done, though I work on them what seems like a lot.

So I just have a few things going on, right? At least I can’t get bored; all I have to do is pick up something else and I’ll have to use my brain again, right?

Part IV – Me again

I think I need to see the doc; I seem to be having some minor issues though they could be the result of the situation at work and not the meds. I’ll have to talk to her and see what she thinks. I’m not losing, but I’m not gaining and that’s a good thing so I won’t complain about my weight. I’ve resigned myself to always being a ‘voluptuous’ woman – doesn’t that sound better than a fat broad? – and as long as I’m healthy, I really can’t kick about it. Work is very hectic right now; a lot of high-profile projects and I’m busy all day, but that’s ok, too. I’d rather be busy than sit there twiddling my thumbs, know what I mean? The day goes by faster when you’re busy, that’s for sure. I plan to get some knitting in tonight; I really have to get close to finishing the left front of ‘Salt Peanuts’ so I can start the right front and make sure they match as best I can.

Almost forgot: I made some washcloths for Mom and she ended up giving a couple to her great-niece Chloe (7 years old) because she really liked them. Now Mom wants me to teach her and Chloe how to knit. My patience is a little thin sometimes, but I’m going to give it a shot. I think some straight garter stitch on size 8 US needles ought to work out fine, don’t you? I figure once they have garter stitch down, I can teach them ‘Grandmother’s Favorite’ and that’ll be really easy for them and result in a nice cloth. I picked up some Peaches’n Crème (about 10 balls) at a yard sale for $1 (white only) and some colors on sale at Michaels or A.C. Moore (can’t remember) so they’d have something to work with and I have two pair of needles that I don’t need, so I didn’t need to buy them. Chloe also wondered if she could make a scarf… I think I can manage that. I also have a couple of balls of lavender Debby Bliss Cashmerino that I got for free, so I think that might be a nice scarf for Chloe. Wish me luck, and remember, until next time, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Monday, September 3, 2007

Part I – the continuing saga…

Let’s see, it was the end of July the last time I was here. So much has happened since then that I’m not sure where to start. We went off to another air show in the Adirondacks a few weeks ago and the best part of the trip was the visit to the local yarn emporium in Saranac Lake. The air show had about 11 planes and we saw two of them fly. Fortunately, we only paid $2 each to get in, the weather was nice, and we had a lovely ride up and back. The yarn I bought was absolutely gorgeous – an almost crimson red colorway that’s a thick-and-thin yarn. It’s called ‘Painted Lady’ from Hand Paints by Catalina and it’s a superfine merino wool bulky. I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet, but I’m sure it will make its designs known to me somehow. The following week we went back up into the Adirondacks to go to a huge flea market in Tupper Lake, which is above Lake Placid. The weather was cool and dry and it was just a wonderful day.

We strolled from booth to booth, looking at all the ‘antiques’ and other stuff for sale. Mike found a few goodies for himself and I found an old binder of knitting patterns that was one of those binders that you get a package every month or so that adds to the book. I think they still do that with some cookbook-type stuff. The patterns are so 60’s, but there are some cute toys and sweaters in there and you can’t go wrong for $1, right?

Late in the day, I was checking out a glass washboard that I thought might be useful for hand felting. I figure I could use it towards the end of the process when I might like to have a bit of control. Anyway, it was marked $18 and I was holding it up and wondering to myself if the guy might take $15 when he yelled over, “$10 and it’s yours!” I told him immediately that I’d take it. When I went to pay him, he asked me what he had marked for the price and when I told him $18 he groaned. His friend was laughing at him and telling him he “lost money on that one.” We all laughed and I dug out a $20 bill to pay him. Once I had my change safely in my pocket, I told him that I had been thinking about offering him $15 when he told me he’d take $10. He groaned, his friend laughed, and I walked away feeling like I’d picked up a bargain. Then, at the very last booth, when I was beginning to feel positively boggled by the amount of merchandise being offered for sale, I looked at something and it never registered. Mike was looking at stuff on the same table as I walked away and he called me to come back and look at something. My non-knitting love of my life found an antique swift! I hadn’t even recognized it for what it was and here the non-knitter spots it immediately! Go figure. Well, it was marked $3 and the gentleman asked me if I knew what it was and when I told him it was a swift, he said, “$2 for you, since you know what it is.” So I bought it. It works great and it’s so light, the yarn never gets pulled too tight while you’re winding. It expands and contracts to fit most size hanks and I’m glad Mike saw it for me.

Part II – ‘Salt Peanuts’ and other wooly projects

I’m still having some trouble finishing up some things. I do knit every day, though I can’t seem to knit on the same project for too long at one time. I get tired of working the same stitches over and over and pick up another piece for the change of pace. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m still going nuts over Veronik Avery’s pattern ‘Salt Peanuts’. It’s an absolutely beautiful cardigan with a lace rib border and a shawl collar. I’d really like to finish it up and wear it this winter, if it doesn’t make me absolutely crazy first.

The back was easy…maybe too easy, because it gave me no idea of how difficult the rest would be to knit. The pattern is supposed to be for an intermediate knitter, but from what I’m going on, I’d give it an advanced rating. Maybe I’m not as good a knitter as I thought I was, but I think this pattern is either some level beyond my skills or it’s so badly written that it’s impossible to get it without help. I’ve already taken this five-page pattern and re-written the instructions into nearly 18 pages. The left front directions are giving me a LOT of trouble right now. I’ve knit and frogged and knit and frogged until I’m sure the yarn will be a mess before I can get it knit into the cardigan. I decided this morning that I would work on the pattern notes, but knit them up into a swatch so that I could rip with impunity when I needed to. Doing it that way, I came up with a way to knit the left front (and probably the right front as well) so that the pieces will match up to the back. I’ve already got 25 rows of my re-write knitted and I really think this will work out this time.

So now I come to the question: when does it go from being her pattern to mine? I’ve completely altered the edging of the cardigan and I’m going to have to completely alter the collar pattern so that I can make it work. I’ve re-written the left and right fronts of the pattern so many times now, that I feel more like it belongs to me than to the author. This time, I went through my stitch dictionaries and found a lace rib that is not the same, but is close enough so that I can work with it to finish the sweater. I’ll post some pictures and let others tell me what they think.

Part III – on the needles

Let’s see, the toe-up socks are still not done. I just find I’m not nuts about doing them. I pick them up now and then, but I never seem to get past a row or two of the cuffs.

I frogged the original shawl I was working on in the alpaca because I didn’t mark the pattern and couldn’t figure out where I was any more. I’ve since started another one from “Folk Shawls” by Cheryl Oberle. This one is the ‘Lacy Prairie Shawl’ and I think it’s working out well. It’s a nice easy project and I can carry it with me for now. It’s done with increases every row, so it will eventually get big enough to leave at home to knit, but for now, I consider it a portable project.

My ‘Branching Out’ scarf from Knitty is still going strong. I try to do a couple of repeats (10 rows is one repeat) whenever I can, but I have to concentrate a lot because the pattern is ‘busy’ and I tend to forget the occasional yo. I really have to count every st of every row to make sure I’ve got it right. That way I know I won’t have to rip out more than one row at a time if I make a mistake.

I’m also still working on the Gryffindor House Scarf from “Charmed Knits.” It’s knit in the round, stockinette, and it gets very boring very quickly, though I think it’ll be ok once hockey season starts because I won’t have to pay too much attention to it while I’m watching the games.

Now I must remind myself that Christmas is coming and I haven’t really started any gifts yet. I’m thinking about doing felted clogs for my stepdaughter and her family and maybe for Mom, but only if I can get Mom’s to be non-slip. Mom is kind of wobbly and slippery bottom slippers won’t be a good thing for her. I made the clogs for Mike and me last year and they came out really well. They are toasty warm without making your toes all sweaty and I think they’ll like them. I’d also like to make some spa sets for a few of the gals at work. I think they’d like them and I’m hoping they’ll be fast knits. I figure I can pick up some nice ‘smelly’ soap to put in the box, too.

Part IV – me again
I’m doing better this month. The meds are still doing their happy thing and I’m feeling pretty good. Work is a bit difficult, but it’s a personality conflict type of thing with the new person. We’ll work it out, I’m sure. If we don’t, it’s her loss, not mine. She’s the one with the issues, after all.

As always, wear natural fibers; hug your cat!